NEWPORT BEACH — The Presiding Bishop of the national Episcopal Church issued an order Wednesday, June 28, prohibiting the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, from selling a Newport Beach church property while there is a disciplinary hearing pending against him.
Bruno’s misconduct charges were over his move to sell the prime piece of real estate on Via Lido back in June 2015 for $15 million to a developer who wanted to build luxury condominiums there. Though that sale fell through, the congregation was evicted and remains locked out, forced to hold services in a community room at the Newport Beach Civic Center.
The national church’s hearing panel members, who heard arguments and testimony in Bruno’s misconduct trial, issued a similar order June 16 commanding Bruno to suspend his efforts to sell the property until the charges against him are resolved.
After much inquiry, Bruno admitted to the panel, through his attorney, that he had in fact entered into a confidential sales agreement in April (days after he testified before the panel in Pasadena) to sell the property to Newport Beach developer Burnham Ward Properties. Escrow on the property is scheduled to close July 3.
Bruno also appealed to members of the hearing panel last week to allow him to proceed with the sale because not doing so would subject the diocese to monetary penalties.
But Wednesday’s order from the Most Rev. John Curry had strong words for Bruno.
“Bishop Bruno’s actions and intentions regarding an earlier attempted sale of the St. James property are currently under review in the pending disciplinary matter,” Curry said in his order. “I am deeply concerned that his act of entering into a new contract for sale of the same property, while his approach to the earlier sale is still under review, has the potential to undermine the integrity of the Church’s disciplinary process.”
He added: “In recent days, I have learned of actions that, in my view, may threaten the good order and welfare of the Church.”
Curry ordered Bruno to stop all sale proceedings until issues surrounding his misconduct charges are resolved.
Neither a spokesman for the diocese nor the developer could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, the national church’s attorney urged the Episcopal Church to defrock Bruno in light of his apparent contempt for church laws and processes. In his brief, attorney Jerry Coughlan called Bruno’s actions…